Call our free helpline0808 808 3555
Call our free helpline
0808 808 3555
CAMHS stands for child and adolescent mental health services.
CAMHS offer assessment and treatment for families where children
and young people have emotional, behavioural or mental health
CAMHS are usually NHS services. They are sometimes called
'specialist CAMHS', because there are also other services that can
help children and young people with their mental health, such as
youth counselling and school counselling.
Children, young people and their families can be offered support
by CAMHS if they are experiencing difficulties with their behaviour
or emotions or they are finding it hard to cope with life in the
family, at school or in the wider world.
The types of problems CAMHS can help with include:
CAMHS can also diagnose and treat serious mental health problems
CAMHS may also diagnose and offer support with conditions such
as Autism and ADHD, but this differs from area to area, so ask your
GP for advice about this.
There are different ways to get a referral to CAMHS, but the
most common way is via your child's GP. You can discuss your
worries about your child and if the child is old enough and feels
able to do so, they can see the GP themselves. The GP may be able
to offer advice or if they think specialist help is needed, they
will write a letter to CAMHS asking them to make an appointment for
Other professionals who may be able to make a referral to CAMHS
CAMHS are expected to work with children and young people up to
the age of 18. However, some services stop working with young
people at age 16, or will only work with a person aged 16-18 if
they are in full-time education.
If your child is over the age at which their local CAMHS stops
seeing young people, they may need to be referred to the adult
mental health team, or to other support services for older young
people. Different areas have different ways of organising their
services, so it is best to ask your GP about this.
Waiting lists for CAMHS vary, and it is worth asking your GP
what the waiting time is like in your area, or contacting the CAMHS
administrator directly. In the meantime it can help to talk to your
child and their teachers, GP or other people who support them about
how to help them while waiting for the CAMHS process to start.
If you feel the waiting time is particularly long, you should
consider contacting your NHS Trusts' Patients Advisory Liaison
Service (PALS). You can find details in the phone book or through a
Citizens Advice Bureau. You can make a formal complaint if you feel
you are not being offered help within a reasonable time. You can
also try contacting your local MP.
The CAMHS staff must make sure both your child and you agree to
accept the support they are offering and explain what other options
there are if you do not agree with their suggestions.
The CAMHS staff must explain to you how and with whom they might
share any information given by you or your child. Your child has
the right to mention things in their sessions which are
confidential from you, and equally you have the right to say things
that are kept confidential from your child. However if anyone at
CAMHS is given information that someone is being harmed or is at
risk of harm, they have a duty to break confidentiality.
All CAMHS services have complaints procedures, and these should
be explained to you. If you or your child are unhappy with anything
about the support offered, you have the right to talk to the CAMHS
staff about it and ask them what can be done to improve things.
Access to records
Your child has the right to see their case records in most
cases. They can ask their CAMHS worker informally or might have to
ask officially using formal procedures CAMHS will explain.
Support for particular needs
If you or your child need particular support, for example an
interpreter or for someone to come with you to meetings, you should
make this clear to the CAMHS staff so they can help with this.
Where can I find out more?
YoungMinds is the
UK's leading charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing
and mental health of children and young people
You can contact Young
Minds Parents' Helpline, which has a team of qualified child
and adolescent mental health specialists, who can give you advice
about managing your child's difficulties before you've received
CAMHS. YoungMinds also has booklets and leaflets for young people
and parents that can help.
We also support Northern Ireland and Scotland. Give our helpline
a call on 0808 808 3555 for information and advice on any aspect of
raising a disabled child, or call your local contact. Find out our
details in the Contact in your area section.